team-building activities for work

20 Effective and Fun Team-Building Activities for Work

Team-building activities for work are a fun and effective way to build camaraderie and strong bonds in your business.

In this article, we discuss three broad categories of team-building activities for work — in-person, virtual, and leadership — as well as the specific “games” that will have everyone energized, engaged, and motivated to work together better.

Table of contents

In-person team-building activities for work

In-person team-building activities for work

1) Typing race

As team-building activities for work go, this is an employee favorite — especially for those who work on computers all day, every day.

One way to run this game is to direct everyone to a type racing website where everyone can compete head to head (enter “type race” in your favorite search engine and check out the results).

Another option is to point your browser to a typing test website and give everyone a chance to type the same piece of text to see who’s the fastest.

This game also works well online if you manage a remote or hybrid team. For the online version, have each employee share their screen one at a time and try for the fastest WPM.

2) Puzzle race

The second entry on our list of in-person team-building activities for work is the puzzle race. The instructions are super easy:

  1. Purchase several copies of the same jigsaw puzzle (300 pieces or less works well).
  2. Divide into teams.
  3. Challenge the teams to be the first to assemble their puzzle.

Award prizes to the team that completes the puzzle fastest. If no teams finish, count up the pieces in place to determine the winner.

This is also a fun game to play as individuals, but you might want to use smaller puzzles (i.e., fewer pieces) so team members don’t get overwhelmed.

3) This or that

This Or That is another of our favorite team-building activities for work because it helps team members get to know one another without the pressure of competition.

The game is a variation of the familiar “Would You Rather?” where you ask participants to decide between two options and then explain their choice.

Here are some “Would You Rather…” pairs to get you started:

  • Live the rest of your life in an RV or a sailboat
  • Wear a bathing suit every day or formal attire
  • Have good short-term memory or good long-term memory
  • Have the ability to read or the ability to speak
  • Be able to know the history of the objects you touch or be able to talk to animals

Come up with your own choices to add to the list or google “would you rather” for plenty of options.

4) Navigation

For this team-building activity, you’ll need a blindfold and several “obstacles” to navigate around (empty boxes or piles of cushions work well).

To run the game:

  1. Divide into teams of two.
  2. Blindfold one member of the duo.
  3. Task the other member to guide the “blind” person through the obstacles using only the words right, left, forward, and backward.

The team that gets to the finish line fastest wins the prize. You could also do this activity as sudden death — if a team touches any obstacle, they’re out.

Get creative with this game for a fun and easy way to promote communication, listening, and trust.

5) Ice-breaker questions

One of the simplest — but no less effective and fun — team-building activities for work is playing a few rounds of ice-breaker questions.

The nice thing about this “game” is that you don’t need any supplies, and preparation typically consists of nothing more than finding a list of questions to ask.

By the way, we’ve got you covered there, too! Check out this article from the Sling blog for plenty of questions to use at your next (and your next and your next) meeting: 200 Creative Team-building Questions To Break the Ice at Work.

Plus, running the session is super easy. Simply gather everyone together (online or in-person), explain what’s going to happen, ask a question, give people time to respond, and enjoy the fun.

Virtual team-building activities for work

In-person team-building activities for work

6) Virtual Q & A

This is probably the simplest option on our list of fun team-building activities for work because it takes very little preparation on your part but is still an effective way for your employees to get to know one another.

Gather everyone together online and ask questions that reveal a bit about each individual or that generate discussion around a topic.

For example, you might ask:

  • What is something you think is totally overrated?
  • Would you rather join Metallica or the New Kids On The Block?
  • Which of your remote coworkers do you think is the tallest?
  • Do you fold your pizza?
  • If you could be any animal for a week, which would you choose?

Want more fun questions? Check out this article from the Sling blog: 200 Creative Team-Building Questions To Break the Ice at Work.

7) Who’s who

This team-building activity requires a bit of work beforehand from both you and your team, but the results are well worth the effort.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Ask employees to email you one of their baby pictures.
  2. Create a collage of those pictures and send a copy to each employee.
  3. Gather everyone together online.
  4. Challenge employees to match the baby picture with the current team member.

The activity can be run as teams or individuals, and answers can be written or oral — whatever works best for you.

You can even institute penalties for wrong guesses, set a maximum number of guesses per turn, or invent your own variations to mix things up (e.g., include a few baby pictures of famous people).

8) Emoji that tune

Emoji That Tune is another employee favorite on this list of team-building activities for work because, while the premise is simple, the execution leads to a lot of laughs.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Each person takes a turn sharing their screen.
  2. Set a timer for three to five minutes.
  3. Using a program that generates emojis (a text app, Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or some other tech), the person types out the name of their favorite song (or the one played most recently on their device) in nothing but emojis.
  4. The other members of the team take turns trying to guess the name of the song until the timer runs out.
  5. At the end of the time, if no one has guessed, the screen-sharer will reveal the song and share why they chose to use it in this game.

Alternatively, you, as the host, can display the emojis and challenge the team to work together to guess the title.

9) Through the years

Before running this team-building activity, find a random date generator online (GIGAcalculator works well) and experiment with its features. Specify a date range from the birthday of your oldest team member (e.g., 1975) right up to the present.

With that tool on hand, you can gather everyone together online and either generate a new year for each person or generate one year for the whole group.

Then, ask each person to share something significant that happened to them in the year that came up. Depending on the age range of your team, some individuals may have to pass because they weren’t born yet. Just generate a new date until the year is within their lifetime.

This is also a fun activity to run in person either with slips of paper (with years written on them) or coins from the last forty or fifty years.

10) Two truths, one lie

This virtual activity is a great way to help employees get to know one another and foster a real sense of camaraderie.

You will have to do a bit of preparation, but that just involves asking your remote employees to email you two truths and one lie about themselves.

When you ask for the information, add the caveat that the lie shouldn’t be too much of a departure from what might be plausible. “I’ve been to the International Space Station” is a much more obvious lie than, “I’ve been to Antarctica.”

It’s also very helpful to have your employees tell you which of the facts are true and which one is the lie when they send the email.

When it comes time to run the game, gather everyone online and ask one person to reveal the three “facts” about themselves (you could even grease the wheels a bit by going first).

After the three “facts” are out there, allow the rest of the group to decide which one is the lie. You may even choose to schedule in extra time for participants to ask follow-up questions of their coworkers for even more team-building interaction.

Leadership team-building activities for work

 team-building activities for work

11) Describe and draw

This activity will test your employees’ ability to think under pressure and give clear directions to their teammate (both good qualities for a leader).

Here’s how it works:

  • Sit two people back to back
  • Designate one person as the leader and one person as the artist
  • Give the leader an object
  • Give the artist a pad of paper and a pencil
  • Task the leader with describing the object without saying what it is
  • Task the artist with drawing the item based on the leader’s description

Once the drawing is complete (or the time limit you set expires), award points for the most accurate, the most beautiful, or the most abstract representation.

To add some fun, let the group vote on their favorites.

12) Round table race

This leadership activity requires some space and lots of supplies, so give yourself plenty of time to prepare and get organized.

It’s called Round Table Race, but you don’t absolutely need round tables. As long as you have four separate stations where groups can work together, you’ll be good to go.

Start your preparation by creating four different complex, multi-step tasks for each station (e.g., building a small LEGO® set or assembling a presentation binder per specific instructions).

On the day of the activity, divide your employees into four teams and assign each group to one of the four tables.

Designate a leader for each group and tell them that they (the leaders) can only communicate, direct, and delegate, but they can’t actually do the work.

Begin the race and time how long it takes each team to finish. Record the results and move each team to the next table (or conclude this round and do another round on another day).

If you want to mix things up, feel free to keep the same leaders from one round to another or assign new ones each time you move.

Time all teams on all tables and the team with the lowest overall total wins.

13) Steps to becoming a leader

Before running this leadership team-building activity, compile at least 20 “I am…” statements that describe various leadership qualities.

For example, you might write:

  • I am comfortable making important decisions with plenty of lead time.
  • I am comfortable making important decisions with no lead time.
  • I am able to accept blame when it’s my fault.
  • I am approachable even during stressful times.
  • I am able to stay positive in the face of adversity.

When it’s time to run the exercise, line everyone up side by side in a line facing you.

Draw a finish line about 20 steps away from the participants, and then read each “I am…” statement out loud and instruct them to take one step forward if the statement applies to them.

Continue reading statements until someone crosses the finish line (or gets close).

Periodically throughout the game, ask participants to justify, explain, or illustrate how they possess the quality you described.

14) Circle to square

For this team-building activity, you’ll need two items:

  • A long piece of rope, string, ribbon, or other flexible material (even an extension cord will work)
  • A blindfold for every participant

To start the game, arrange everyone in a circle and have them hold part of the rope (or ribbon or extension cord). Then, instruct them to place the rope on the floor at their feet and stand up.

Next, have them take a few steps back away from the rope and put on their blindfolds.

Finally, challenge them to come back, pick up the rope, and form a square without letting go of the rope or removing their blindfolds.

15) Match game

The Match Game (sometimes called Pairs) works like this:

  • Come up with as many pairs as you can think of before the activity starts (e.g., peanut butter and jelly, yin and yang, salt and pepper, dark and light, male and female, Minnie and Mickey, noise and silence, hard and soft, etc.)
  • Write each word of the pair on its own piece of paper (e.g., peanut butter on one, jelly on another)
  • Mix up (shuffle) the papers
  • Gather everyone together and tape a piece of paper on their back without letting them see the word
  • Challenge them to find the other half of their pair by only asking Yes or No questions

When players make a match, instruct them to learn three interesting facts about one another.

Restaurant team-building activities

Restaurant team-building activities

16) Tray carry obstacle course

This activity is fairly simple:

  • Set up an obstacle course of some sort in the seating area of your restaurant
  • Lay out paper plates, plastic cups, silverware, and other items near the starting line
  • Give each “runner” a tray
  • Challenge them to load all the items on their tray and navigate the obstacle course

Time each attempt and add five seconds for each item dropped. The person with the fastest time wins.

17) Paper napkin airplane

As individuals or as groups, challenge your employees to make a paper airplane out of nothing but paper napkins. The airplane that flies the farthest wins the prize.

You can leave it at that for a real challenge or provide participants with extra materials (e.g., straws, tape, coffee stirrers, etc.) to make their airplanes more robust.

18) Best cocktail

To make this activity as fair as possible, separate your bartenders from the rest of the group and ask them to judge the competition.

Challenge each competitor to mix the most delicious cocktail possible with only the knowledge in their head (no using the internet). To add to the fun, give everyone a sip of each drink.

The mixologist with the best cocktail wins something special. This is also a fun way to add new and unique drinks to your bar menu.

19) Team cook-off

For this activity, you may want to separate your chefs and cooks from everyone else; they can be your judges.

The rules are simple:

  • Divide the group into teams
  • Pick ingredients that they must use (e.g., bananas, onions, quinoa, etc.)
  • Pick a food category (e.g., pizza, cake, soup, etc.)
  • Challenge teams to cook something delicious

Award prizes for tastiest treat, best presentation, cleanest workstation, or any other categories you can think of.

20) Three-armed race

Like the three-legged race, this activity is best performed in pairs.

Challenge teams of two to perform some action (e.g., set a table, mix a drink, prep a plate for serving) while holding hands (team member A’s right hand to team member B’s left hand).

Time each team and add five seconds whenever they release hands. To add to the stress (and fun), position items they’ll need in distant corners of the restaurant.

The team with the fastest time wins.

Schedule time for team-building activities

Schedule time for team-building activities

With the fast pace of business these days, finding time to gather your team together to build camaraderie and strong bonds can be extremely difficult.

Sling makes that job easier with a broad set of features to help your team work effectively and efficiently, including:

Try Sling for free and experience all the benefits of a modern workforce management software suite.

For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit our blog today.

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This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal, tax, HR, or any other professional advice. Please contact an attorney or other professional for specific advice.

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